On November 7th, 2014 IE Business School will host the first installment of their signature Venture Day in Miami. IE Business School launched the International Venture Days Tour to support entrepreneurs and alumni.  The tour will consist of a series of competitions to glean the most exciting ideas. The Venture Day theme will be tailored to each host city’s ecosystem. In Miami, the theme is big data and will include talks from prominent experts in the field, established entrepreneurs, local investors and an exciting pitch competition for start-ups. The host company is Venture Hive which “offers institutions and communities efficient and effective turnkey models to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem based on sound educational principles.”

For more information visit: http://www.ie.edu/events/venture-days/miami-2014/ or e-mail IE at southusa@ie.edu. The deadline for pitch applications is October 23rd.

On May 29th,  I had the distinct pleasure of moderating the MBA’s for Entrepreneurs Panel at the 2014 AIGAC (Association of Graduate Admissions Consultants) Conference. Thank you very much to my extraordinary panelists:

MBA Entrepreneurship Panel

MBA Entrepreneurship Panel

We were fortunate to have the perspectives of both admissions officers and an entrepreneurship program director. The MBA admissions consultants in attendance learned much from our panelists. MIT Sloan Director of Admissions, Dawna Levenson, kicked off the event answering the first question “How do your respective MBA admissions committees evaluate entrepreneurial candidates?” by sharing MIT Sloan’s long-standing policy of not using career goals in their evaluation process. Other panelists discussed looking for previous entrepreneurial experience, personality traits like not being afraid to fail and how applicants would handle existing businesses while in MBA school.

The panelists discussed the abundance of resources available from access to venture capitalists, business plan competitions, pitch competitions, mentorship programs, office space, accelerators, combinators, and much, much more including the greater ecosystem of their respective universities and cities. Some schools had “Lean Startup” classes while other schools specialized in certain verticals. The information was very rich as we learned more about MIT Sloan’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Track, the role of NYU Stern’s Berkley Center in getting the students out of the classroom; Babson’s Accelerator for Women in Entrepreneurship; Wharton’s Semester in San Francisco, Haas’ Social Entrepreneurship program; Columbia’s extensive use of adjunct faculty and Executives in Residence program; and McCombs’ Venture Labs that match 40 UT students across the university with 10 Austin area early-stage entrepreneurial companies.

At the end of 45 minutes, it was obvious how the leading entrepreneurial programs provide so much for entrepreneurs to grow existing companies, start new ones, excel as intrapreneurs or acquire skills for becoming entrepreneurs later in life. The panelists agreed that entrepreneurship lasts a lifetime as many entrepreneurs start their businesses significantly after completing business school.

For more information on the respective entrepreneurship centers visit:


When choosing MBA schools there are hundreds of choices?  What should be my business school selection criteria and how many schools should I apply to?  Once you have chosen a MBA Program Type you can determine a set of schools to target using the following criteria.  This criteria should be weighted depending on the particular candidate.

MBA School Selection Criteria

  • Location

If you are choosing a Part-Time MBA or Executive MBA program, then you will be working while attending school, so your school section will most likely be constrained to a specific region.  For example, if you work in Chicago you might choose between Chicago Booth’s Evening MBA and Kellogg’s Part-Time MBA Program.

If you are choosing a Full-Time MBA program and wish to enter Media & Entertainment you might choose schools in New York or Los Angeles which are the meccas for this field.

  • Reputation

Reputation can be determined by looking at MBA school rankings, reading publications, asking business professionals, etc.  Rankings can be by MBA Program Type, specialization, region, etc. Reputation is important when wishing to enter highly selective fields like private equity, management consulting or investment banking.

  • Specialization 

Do you wish to go to a general management school like Harvard’s MBA Program or a school that specializes in a certain subject, like Babson’s Entrepreneurship Program?

Or specialization might be one factor.  One way to determine if a school has a strength in a specialization is to see if the program has a center which would conduct research, design curriculums, write cases, arrange for experiential programs, etc.  These specializations could be focused on functional areas, industry sectors, business types, etc.

Here are some examples:

  • Career Placement 

What is the likelihood a program will place you in your desired field and at the right level?  Certain schools have better career placement programs.  If you wish to go into investment banking following school, know which program have better placement rates such as Columbia, Wharton, and Chicago.  You can research this by looking at the career employment reports for each program.

  • Joint Degrees 

Do you wish to pursue a joint degree?  As discussed in MBA Program Types certain schools offer students the ability to complete combined degrees in multiple management fields.  For instance, dual MBA degrees encompass:


Certain schools offer integrated programs which are synergistic towards both degrees.  For example, integrated JD/MBA’s include Wharton’s JD/MBA, Yale’s Integrated JD/MBA, and Kellogg’s JD/MBA.

Other schools offer joint MBA degrees with international partners like the Stern-HEC Dual Degree Program.

  • Environment / Student Body

What type of environment do you prefer?  Some schools like Darden are known as boot camps while others like Wharton is known to be more competitive, and Tuck is to be more cooperative and supportive.  So know yourself to see where you would best thrive.

  • Pedagogy 

How do you best learn?  Is the school known as a teaching institution or a research institution?  Do you feel learning by case study is superior to lecture and would prefer a school like HBS or Darden that teaches exclusively by case study.

  • Alumni

Certain schools have more powerful alumni bases.  If you are an international applicant check the strength of that particular alumni group in your country.

  • Return on Investment 

Some schools are more expensive than others while other schools will help you land jobs with higher salaries.  Factored together, you can determine which programs offer you a better ROI return on investment.  The availability of MBA scholarships, merit aid, grants, etc. could influence your choice.

These are some of the factors you should weigh when determining which schools you will target.  You must also do a realistic assessment of your competitiveness as a candidate and choose stretch, target, and safety schools.  Very roughly speaking, a stretch school is a school where your GPA and GMAT are below the school’s average; a target school is where these scores are in line with the school’s average; and a safety school is where your GPA and GMAT are above the school’s average.  But these academic and test scores only tell part of the story.  MBAPrepAdvantage offers a free initial assessment to help you determine your MBA admissions chances by weighing stretch, target, and safety schools along with the strength of your candidacy.  Email MBAPrepAdvantage a brief description of your goals in addition to your resume, GPA, and GMAT score at info@mbaprepadvantage.com

Many schools focus entrepreneurial resources on starting the next Facebook – a business with enormous potential. But new Entrepreneur-In-Residence, Melinda Garvey focuses on small businesses which she describes as “the wave of the future”.

From McCombs Today:

New Entrepreneur-In-Residence Has Small Business Focus

Melinda Garvey has arrived as the new Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship at McCombs. Garvey is the third entrepreneur to accept the one-year appointment, following in the footsteps of Gary Hoover and Louise Epstein. She is the owner of AustinWoman magazine and co-founder of ATXMAN(a.k.a., AustinMan magazine) at AW MEDIA Inc., and has been a regular speaker at McCombs on the topic of small business success. McCombs TODAY caught up with Garvey recently, on the heels of the ATXMAN launch party.

McCombs TODAY: Will an interest in small business flavor your focus as Entrepreneur-in-Residence?

Garvey: I definitely come in with that perspective as a guest lecturer over the last four or five years. Students don’t have as much access and as much transparency into the small business world, and I always find they’re intrigued and often surprised at things I’m doing and how we’re doing them.

McT: Do you think that perspective is new for students?

Garvey: In a top-tier business school you have a lot of access into large corporations, and as a result students may not understand what running a small business can mean for your life and your livelihood. So the days of IPOs and big corporations are not over, but it is different now and small business is really the wave of the future. It’s not only something you can be passionate about and something you love, but you can make a great living. There will be some students who won’t be interested in that type of entrepreneurship, but others will consider it a path to explore. It’s certainly a different perspective than the first two entrepreneurs-in-residence.

For the complete article go to http://mccombstoday.org/2011/09/new-entrepreneur-in-residence-has-small-business-focus.

For applicants interested in entrepreneurship in emerging markets MIT’s Global Entrepreneurship Lab provides the perfect experiential opportunity to gain experience consulting on real world strategic issues facing entrepreneurial companies in developing countries.

In MIT StudentBlogs one student chronicles her G-Lab experience in Africa:

G-Lab in Africa

Born in Uruguay and raised in seven different countries in five continents, one of my goals in business school was push the envelope even further as a global trotter and to set foot on at least one of the two remaining continents during my time at Sloan. So when it came time for my team to choose our project, my regional preference was naturally Africa (they didn’t have Antarctica). Luckily there were a lot of Africa projects to choose from in a wide range of sectors. Given that my team had two LGOs (dual degree program in engineering and MBA), a former engineer and me, the project on an antenna technology for market entry in Africa was our natural choice. To be honest, our three-month research process in the U.S. was a rather grueling experience as we had a hard time grasping what new ideas we may be able to come up with for our client. However, it all came together during the on-site internship in Africa, and G-Lab ended up completely exceeding all of my expectations in terms of what I learned and how much I was able to grow as a person.

Getting ready for my on-ground research in Ghana and Kenya, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. My visit to the MIT travel office resulted in six shots on both arms and various medications including malaria pills and diarrhea pills. Boarding the plane to Accra, I was overwhelmed with apprehension and excitement. As we landed, the plane just sort of hit the ground, kept rolling and came to an abrupt stop at a random spot at the airport. We were told to get off the plane, and there we were, in the middle of the Accra airport, where there were no gates and a huge sign that said Akwaaba, which means “welcome.” Underneath, there was a list of prohibited items in Ghana, including pedophiles and other sexual deviants.

All G-Lab trips are funded either entirely by the host company or by MIT and the host company, but our G-Lab experience was much different from that of other teams in that we were working for a U.S. Fortune 500 company that put us up in a five-star hotel, both in Accra and Nairobi, where we were treated like celebrities. We had a personal trainer in Accra and my tennis coach at the hotel (yes, the hotel had a tennis court) was a Ghanaian national tennis team player who competed in the Davis Cup for Ghana. We also occasionally got massages at the hotel, sipped on pina colada by the pool and worked on our project in a fancy business center. As I mentioned before, this is definitely not the typical G-Lab experience as most G-Lab host companies are start-ups. Another thing that was different about our project was that we were mostly left on our own to work on the project, whereas other teams were working side-by-side with their client companies on-ground. The only face-to-face interaction we had with our client was during our final presentation in Nairobi on the last day of our on-site internship. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the flexibility of being able to think outside the box and to schedule meetings with whomever we felt could add value to the project.

For the complete article go to http://mitsloanblog.typepad.com/yoomi/2011/01/g-lab-in-africa.html.

Many MBA applicants wish to launch businesses directly from school.  Yale Entrepreneurial Institute serves as an incubator. Since 2007, YEI has launched 47 ventures that have raised a total of $37 million.  This year 10 new student-created ventures were launched as part of YEI’s summer fellowship program.  For more information about this process read more at the Yale Daily Bulletin:

As student business ideas evolve and expand, so does YEI

Like the many of the 47 new companies it has helped create since 2007, the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI) has outgrown the adjective “start-up.”

The institute, envisioned as a place where Yale students could get advice on implementing their business ideas, has evolved and expanded. It has moved from the cramped York Street office of its younger days into a larger, more formal office at 55 Whitney Ave.

At an open house scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7, YEI officials plan to show off the 10 new student-created ventures whose founders recently completed a summer fellowship program, as well as YEI’s own increasingly ambitious and sophisticated programs for connecting the entrepreneurial community at Yale and the region. (See related story, “To market, to market: 10 student enterprises”)

 For the complete article go to http://bulletin.yale.edu/article.aspx?id=8816.

Earlier this month UCLA announced changes to its curriculum.  These changes were made to better prepare students for specific fields.  Employers expected MBA students to be better prepared from their initial hire.  Now UCLA Anderson School Dean Judy Olian feels that “UCLA Anderson graduates will be ready to enter the market with deep expertise in their chosen fields when they finish their MBA.”

The major changes are:

  • Emphasis on Leadership and Communication Skills from day one
  • Specified tracks (marketing, consulting, finance or custom) and certificates (brand management, investment management, sustainability, entrepreneurship, real estate, or entertainment) that align with employer hiring interests.
  • Customizable core sequence
  • Applied Management Research Project (this requirement has always been there since I graduated in 2000).

The tracks will become mandatory starting with the Class of 2014.  For more information go to http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/x28616.xml.

To learn more about Wharton’s entrepreneurial resources a prospective MBA applicant might look at the success story of baby.com.br.

From MBA Admissions Blog:

WEP Student Success Story

Wharton has been home to a number of successful Entrepreneurs who have used the resources at WEP to launch their businesses. Recently, Davis Smith, WG ’11, raised $4.3 million for his Brazil-focused online seller of baby products called baby.com.br. Below are just some of his steps towards his success through using WEP:

  • Davis won a Wharton Venture Award providing $10,000 to pursue his venture over the summer of 2010.
  • Last year Davis was appointed a co-chair of the WBPC & as a participant this year, won third prize for Baby.com.br.
  • Baby.com.br was selected to VIP, WEP’s educational incubator.
  • Davis founded the “Founder’s Club,” a popular peer-to-peer mentoring forum for Wharton students to share & learn from those with advanced startup experience. He gained valuable insights himself by networking with the Wharton alumni founders of Diapers.com (recently acquired by Amazon for $545 million)
  • In the past several months, Davis has: sold his first large scale business, PoolTables.com, the Internet’s largest seller of pool tables; garnered $4.3 million in first round funding for Baby.com.br; won first prize at Harvard Business School’s business plan contest and completed his dual degree in the rigorous Lauder Program.
  • Watch Davis & other WBPC semifinalists talk about how WEP resources supported their growing businesses.

Assistant Director of Marketing & Admissions at University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Ariele Greene, discusses the Darden Incubator and its role in supporting early stage ventures in Darden Admissions & MBA Blog:

Companies in the Darden Business Incubator

This summer the Darden Business Incubator is supporting 12 new businesses of Darden students and graduates. The Incubator supplies each entrepreneur with $13,000 in funding to support the development of these early stage ventures, as well as expert advice from legal, marketing and technological communities.

For descriptions of each of the 12 companies and further details about the Darden Business Incubator, read this article, “Darden Incubator Helping 12 Start-Up Companies Emerge.”

You can also learn more about one of the companies, Nomuda, by watching this video of Joe Chard (Darden MBA ’11) talking about his experiences in the Incubator:

From the MBA Insider’s Blog:

2011 Entrepreneurs Conference at UCLA Anderson

Entrepreneurs conference

UCLA Anderson will hold the 2011 Entrepreneurs Conference this coming Friday, May 13!  Come meet, listen to and network with a variety of professional and student entrepreneurs at the largest entrepreneurial event on the UCLA campus.
This year’s theme is “It’s the Journey” and will focus on the process of building a business. For most entrepreneurs, the journey is never over as they continue to grow, overcome obstacles and set new goals and priorities. The joy comes from the completion of a succession of steps, not the finale outcome. A variety of keynote speeches, panels and *new* case studies will highlight the thriving world of entrepreneurship in Southern California and beyond. Topics include fundraising, growing a local marketing presence, relationship-building as well as industry topics such as cleantech, new media, retail and mass customization, restaurants, education, microfinance, real estate and biotech. A fast pitch competition will also be held.

For details and to register for the conference please visit the event site.

-MBA Admissions and Financial Aid

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